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  • Victoria Hekking

Are We Judging Intelligence the ‘Right’ Way?



What is 'intelligence'? From a young age, we're taught to think that the better we do on tests, the smarter we are. We are conditioned to learn, rehearse, and retain information for when it's needed- or in other words, in order to pass exams. This is how intelligence and knowledge is evaluated in education systems. The grades we get determine what future opportunities are open to us. University programs, apprenticeships, and graduate positions are offered to those with certain grades, and can often leave out any consideration for your work ethic, passion, creativity, attitude, and transferable skills, thus opening doors to only some students, but not others.


When it comes to recruitment for graduates to enter the world of work, opportunities available to us are based on degrees built on grades, and isn't really a true reflection of who you are. There is a problem with the way we regard grades as a reflection of intelligence. The truth is, intelligence comes in many forms. Howard Gardner outlines the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in his book Frames of Mind, as a combination of different modalities. Just to name a few, these include knowledge and astuteness in mathematical reasoning and interpersonal skills and verbal linguistic intelligence. Students learn in 'identifiably distinctive' ways. The education system is biased towards certain instruction and assessment which assumes everyone learns in the same way. Gardner argues that society as a whole “would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a number of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means."


All students don't learn the same way, so why are we assessing them on the same measurement scale? If we all think differently, why are schools and companies assessing applicants on the archaic scale of grades? We all bring unique combinations of our intelligence and skills to a job. The system of recruitment set in-place, doesn't allow the chance to prove how well your combination of skills and personality could best suit the role. Eager and hard-working graduates are blocked from applying to a degree program or a decent job because of poor test performance. But in an internal survey of 400 of its own graduates, EY has found that there is no correlation to grades and successful job performance. There should be a broader means to assessing job applicants. Yes, education should play a part, but it shouldn't be the only part.


There should be a better way to offer a more well-rounded view of who you are and your abilities, apart from grades and standard measures of ‘intelligence’. It's up to employers, institutions, and government education policy makers to make a change in the way the world actually works. This means not tying their recruitment practices to the way they think people should work. By doing this, they can harness a greater variety of skills in a wider talent pool, opening opportunities to a larger group of graduates and professionals from different academic backgrounds. The mission of Construct remains to help in bridging the existing gap between employers, academic institutions, students, and professionals.


Zairah Kurshid

Former Marketing and Business Development Manager